45 Summer Pasta Recipes to Bring to Every Picnic and Potluck This Summer
How do we love thee, pasta salad? Let us count the ways. No backyard party or barbecue is complete without pasta salad. No, not the macaroni with specks of cabbage and carrot, held together by globs of mayonnaise. We’re talking about the good stuff. Here are 45 summer pasta recipes full of in-season vegetables and fresh herbs to bring to every picnic and potluck.
1. Jalapeño-Avocado Mac and Cheese
If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that macaroni and cheese is heavenly. This one even more so, thanks to pickled jalapeños and avocado, not to mention a ton of white cheddar. It’s great as a burger side, but even better on the burger.
2. Creamy Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Raisins
Take this lunchbox gem up a notch for a crowd. It has sour cream, yellow mustard and honey, and a lot to crunch about with a whole head of lettuce and sliced green onion. At only $1.50 per serving, it’s a no-brainer.
3. Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles
Who said *real* pasta should have all the fun? Cucumber noodles are so refreshing on a hot day and a breeze to make with a spiralizer or peeler. And the sesame-soy tahini dressing is one for the books.
4. Salami, Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta Salad
From salami to ricotta to artichoke hearts, this salad has it all. Have it with barbecue brisket or grilled veggies. The mustard vinaigrette works wonders on mixed greens, too.
5. Apple, Grape and Pecan Pasta Salad
We love both fruit and crunchy bits in our salad, so this is a win-win. Salty Parmesan cheese will pop on the tongue alongside sweet grapes and apples. Even the kids will dig the lemon-mustard dressing.
6. Chili-Lime Jicama and Corn Shrimp Salad
Looking for an app to grill? Skewer and cook spicy paprika shrimp, then add a citrus vinaigrette to bring the cabbage and corn to life. Substitute doughy noodles for spiralized jicama, which is like a cross between a pear and an apple.
7. Spring Roll Bowls
Rice-stick noodles offer a light alternative to pasta. Make one big batch topped with seasoned chicken, grated carrot, scallions and avocado. Peanut sauce and chopped cashews pull it all together, and we’re betting a drizzle of Sriracha and a lime wedge won’t hurt either.
8. BLT Pasta Salad
The simplest sandwich on earth just ditched white bread for your cutest serving bowl. This version is just as crunchy and creamy as its predecessor (props to mayo and Dijon mustard), plus has a ton of black-pepper bacon. It also leaves you with room to try everything else at the potluck, which is a big plus in our book.
9. Summer Skillet Gnocchi with Grilled Corn and Burrata
Meet the prettiest centerpiece of the season. Wow guests with this one-pan prize complete with charred corn fresh off the cob and a creamy ball of burrata. No one will believe it took an hour to make.
10. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad
Cute curls of cavatappi just got a Southwest-inspired makeover. Corn, jalapeño and homemade lime-cilantro dressing make this a party favorite that pairs with everything from grilled chicken to ribs.
11. Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad
Picky kids beware: This salad just might get you to like vegetables. Well, one vegetable. And it’s surrounded by crispy bacon, penne and buttery bread crumbs. Try turning your nose up at that, little ones.
12. Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce
It never hurts to squeeze some veggies in between all those burgers and hot dogs. This soba-noodle starter is loaded with red bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, radishes and scallions. But the main attraction here is without a doubt the peanut butter sauce spiked with citrus, honey and soy sauce.
13. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
This is the picnic side everyone silently waits by the table for. It’s got all the butter, cheddar, Parmesan and breadcrumbs you could want in a macaroni dish, plus a whole head of cauliflower florets. That makes this count as a vegetable, right?
14. Keto Pasta with Lemon-Kale Chicken
Have low-carb eaters in your crew? No prob. This dish uses tofu noodles instead of pasta. Wilted kale tossed in garlic and olive oil checks your greens box for the day, so treat yourself to an extra slice of that lemon pie with blueberry meringue. Serve this hot or cold with lots of grated Parmesan.
15. Pesto Zoodles
This homemade basil-pine nut sauce tastes great on pretty much everything. Sauté zucchini noodles with onion and top ‘em with Parmesan curls and red-pepper flakes. We’d make a backup batch for a rainy day, but it’s your call.
16. Corn, Tomato and Avocado Pasta Salad
This classic combo of summer produce never gets old. Especially mixed with cubes of sharp cheddar, fresh basil and lemon juice. Substitute salty Parmesan for milder Manchego or add jalapeños for heat.
17. 15-Minute Lemony Broccolini Pasta
This dish is impressive enough for a potluck yet simple enough for your schedule. What’s not to like about garlic, lemon and heavy cream over pasta? Present it warm or cold next to a dish of fresh mozzarella pearls.
18. Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles
Stir-fry lovers, rejoice. This honey-soy marinade is about to change your life. Minced garlic, ginger and hot pepper add spice and heat to savory fish sauce and hoisin sauce, a Chinese condiment made from fermented soybean paste. Start this one the night before so the pork has enough time to marinate.
19. Antipasto Pasta Salad with Herby Parmesan Vinaigrette
There’s a lot to dig into here. Think salami, sun-dried tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts, pine nuts and Parmesan. Serve warm or cold.
20. Farmers Market Goat Cheese Pasta Primavera
Hello, in-season produce. Zucchini, yellow squash, corn and more are tossed in garlic-lemon balsamic vinaigrette before being folded into fettucine. If you want something milder and less funky, substitute goat cheese for ricotta or burrata.
21. Skillet Pasta with Summer Squash, Ricotta and Basil
We love a one-pan wonder. But we *adore* one that puts sweet, nutty summer squash front and center. Top the pan with foil and head straight for the party. The beers are waiting.
22. Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites
Everyone’s favorite side at the party doesn’t come in a bowl. And it’s made with two types of cheese, lots of whole milk and butter. These minis are poppable, a hit with kids and a breeze to make. Save a few for yourself before going to the party; they keep for two days in the fridge.
23. Five-Ingredient Simple Green Pasta Salad
The best thing about tiny tubular pasta is that it’s easy to eat by the heaping spoonful. Yes, even if it’s heavy on the veggies (we see you, green beans and spinach). This one is extra painless because you probably have most of the the ingredients in your kitchen right now. A sprinkle of parm + a squeeze of lemon = ta-da.
24. The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad
The gang’s all here: cherry tomatoes, fresh mozz, Kalamata olives, salami and pepperoncini. Add a garlicky herb dressing and you’re in business. (Out of salami? Try swapping it for Italian sausage.)
25. Rainbow Antipasto Pasta Salad
Tri-color rotini just screams summertime. Personalize a pot with your favorite antipasto ingredients, like olives, prosciutto, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. Finish it off with an easy herb vinaigrette, kick up your feet and join the party.
26. Cold Lemon Zoodles
If you signed up to bring an app but want to stay far away from the stove, this recipe has your back. Zucchini noodles and pink radishes make for a pretty plate on their own, but a coating of lemon-mustard dressing takes it over the top.
27. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Combine farfalle, diced chicken breast, veggies and homemade yogurt-Caesar dressing for an easy win both kids and adults will devour. Bonus points if you make your own croutons.
28. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Calling all Greek salad-diehards. Kalamata olives, crumbled feta and English cucumber should hold your attention. If not, how about the lemon-herb vinaigrette made with honey, garlic and oregano? That’s better.
29. Cucumber, Zucchini and Kelp Noodle Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Fetch the julienne peeler, y’all. We have veggie noodles to make. Blistered tomatoes offer tiny bursts of sweetness, while the lemon-arugula pesto is equal parts peppery and bright. If you can’t find kelp noodles or prefer regular pasta, substitute it with angel hair. Rice noodles work too.
30. Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce
No one’s expecting to see peanut noodles at a barbecue, so we’ll call this dish a pleasant surprise. Boil some buckwheat noodles, add snap peas, then toss in a spicy peanut sauce made with peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic and agave. Top with cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds for a cheffy finishing touch.
31. Spring Pasta Carbonara
Ooo, so salty and savory. Sure, the grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano probably has a lot to do with it. But the real secret ingredients are pancetta and egg.
32. Springtime Kale Pesto Pasta with Perfectly Seared Scallops
Oh, you fancy, huh? This dish has the right amount of wow factor for an intimate shindig or celebratory girls’ night. Brown these pretties in butter and olive oil , then add your favorite pesto to hot pasta and plate. (Brave enough to make your own?)
33. Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad
Yup, we invited red sauce to the picnic. You only need six ingredients to pull it off, including feta, marinated artichokes and olives. Oh, and consider the sundried tomato dressing your secret weapon for every potluck you ever go to.
34. Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad
Canned tuna is the versatile queen every pantry needs. Two cans of the stuff might not look like much, but they transform into a snapshot-worthy side dish when combined with cherry tomatoes, herbs and bowties.
35. Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad
Fusilli looks good on this cult-favorite dip. It’s as creamy as it sounds thanks to a seasoned Greek yogurt mixture with mayo, Italian seasoning, garlic and lemon. You might want to reserve a bowl for yourself; it’s going to disappear fast.
36. Street Corn Pasta Salad with Cilantro Pesto and Goat Cheese
All the deliciousness of elote minus the corn cob stuck in your teeth. Season and grill the corn until charred, then make the cashew-lime cilantro pesto. Top it off with goat cheese and jalapeños. We won’t stop you from treating yourself to a dollop of sour cream or crema, either.
37. Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower and Tortellini Salad
Never used this spice before? You can thank us later. It’s herbaceous, it’s toasty, it’s a spice we all deserve. But admit it, we had you at tortellini.
38. Orzo Salad with Roasted Corn and Zucchini
We love this fluffy rice-shaped pasta. It somehow seems sophisticated even though it’s just as easy to make as elbows or penne. Substitute grilling for roasting for an extra dose of summer.
39. Sesame Noodle Salad
Linguini goes east in this dish showcasing a ginger-brown sugar dressing made with soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic. Cabbage, pepper, carrot, pea pods, cucumber and more crudités make it a crunch-lover’s dream.
40. Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad
Fruit and salad are a collab we never grow tired of. Tomatoes take a backseat in this caprese remix to another red beauty, while basil pairs up with fresh mint. And introducing the pièce de résistance, a sweet honey-balsamic vinaigrette.
41. Easy Shrimp Pasta Salad
Shrimp and farfalle glistening with honey-Dijon dressing? Scampi could never. The fresh dill is a game changer, adding grassy freshness and a pop of green to the bowl.
42. Avocado Tomato Chickpea Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
Want to make modifications? Swap goat cheese for feta or pickled onions for raw. And if you have gluten-free guests, try chickpea pasta instead of whole wheat.
43. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone
Sometimes less is more, and this recipe is proof. Odds are you don’t even have to go to the grocery store to make it. Linguine or spaghetti work best, but if your heart (or your pantry) says rigatoni, we’re here for it.
44. Orecchiette with Spring Greens
You’re only 15 minutes away from this stunner. Peas and spinach bring freshness to salty Parmesan and crunchy chopped almonds. Speaking of Parm, when we say, “plus extra for finishing,” we mean it.
45. Orzo Pasta Salad with Mint and Feta
The red wine vinaigrette is the star of this dish, rounded out with sweet honey and zesty Dijon. (Be sure to dress it within an hour of the picnic so it doesn’t get soggy.)